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Thread: Which plane do I buy, the LN No. 5 or a 5 1/2 ?

  1. #1
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    Which plane do I buy, the LN No. 5 or a 5 1/2 ?

    Does anyone have any thoughts on which plane I should choose? I intend to use the plane for several purposes. (duh, that's why it's called a "jack" plane) My shooting board, as a fore plane, jointing and smoothing on figured wood. ( curly maple), and as an all around plane.

    Anyone have any thoughts or opinions? I'm leaning towards the 5 1/2 for the extra heft and size.
    Thanks.

  2. #2
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    I would get the 5 1/2, you'll appreciate the mass on a shooting board, and if you camber your irons, you'll appreciate the extra width for smoothing.
    Unleaded tastes a little tangy, supreme is kinda sour, and diesel tastes pretty good.

  3. #3
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    I think I would go with the 5-1/2 as well. I find myself reaching for my #6 over my #5 for most situations...
    ...Dyslexic...
    Gibson Woodworking & Design
    Find my homepage in my profile, not allowed to put it here.

  4. #4
    Given your intended applications I too would say 5.5! It's nice to work with the wholes or the halves so to speak because then you can swap out frogs if you need to move from higher to lower pitches etc. when you've got a big job to do.

    This being said I would prefer a 4.5 and a 7 over the 5.5. Yeah that's two expensive planes!

  5. #5
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    Just went thru this debate. It kind of depend on whether you really want to use it as a smoother on figured wood. I really like my 5 1/2 for its heft, size, feel, width of blade, etc., and would have to say it is probably my favorite "go to" plane. BUT I am going to be making kitchen cabinets with raised panels that will be birdseye maple, so I was debating on getting a high angled frog so as to use it as a smoother. I called LN to get some insight and ultimately got a 4 1/2 HAF smoother. The shorter 4 1/2 can smooth a less "flat" board than the 5 1/2. I know we are supposed to be dealing with flat stock anyway, but it seemed to make sense at the time . . . . .

  6. #6
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    Thanks, I'm probably going to go with the 5.5. I have a woodie smoother that I made in the Krenov style, and since I finally learned how to get a truly sharp iron and scraper, I prefer a hand planed finished. I don't hardly use any sandpaper anymore. My hand plane fetish is going to break the bank........

  7. #7
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    I think you will be happy with the 5-1/2. Especially when you need a little extra width on a shooting board.

    If you have a real plane fetish, you will eventually find a #5 at a yard sale for a price that can't be refused.

    jtk
    "A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty."
    - Sir Winston Churchill (1874-1965)

  8. #8
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    I wish I had a good 5 1/2. If you are building a plane collection and don't have a billion dollars to spend I would not get a LN 5. A good Stanley/Bed Rock 5 is not too hard to find and relatively inexpensive. A good 5 1/2, however, is going to be a bit harder to find and cost a bit more.

    I bought a new LN 5 as one of my first planes and I think I could have better spent the money on a vintage 5 and bought a LN 5 1/2.

  9. #9
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    If you want to do a few things with the plane, I would buy a few vintage planes, maybe a 3, 6, and 8 for smoothing, fore-ing, and joining/shooting, respectively. It will cost the same and be much more fun for your work. I love my 5.5 but its a dedicated "smoother" only -- tight mouth, slightly cambered blade. I would strongly recommend getting a LN 5.5 it for that reason. But I wouldn't recommend getting it for every task of a "jack", too expensive and too fussy.

    But most of all, buy the 5.5

  10. #10
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    I kind of went through this debate, too, except not as efficiently. I bought a 5 and I like it, but realized the 5 1/2 is what I really want. If I had to choose, I'd go with the 5 1/2 but I like having both, too. It's good to keep a blade with a lot of camber in the 5 and set up the 5 1/2 for smoothing.
    Pat

  11. #11
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    Just a thought, an inexpensive way to settle this could be to buy a couple of used planes like a Stanley/Bailey #5 & #6. The #6 is 3" longer than the #5-1/2. I have used a #6 for shooting and some smoothing.

    jtk
    "A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty."
    - Sir Winston Churchill (1874-1965)

  12. #12
    I wouldn't spend LN prices on a #5 or #5 1/2. A good Stanley with a modern blade will perform the tasks those planes were designed for quite well. I'd spend LN dollars on a smoother, like a #4 or #4 1/2.

    Mike
    Go into the world and do well. But more importantly, go into the world and do good.

  13. #13
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    I know this wasnt an option up there but I might also consider the BU jack plane if it were me. I've recently purchased a LV BU jack plane and it has suddenly become my most used plane in my collection, aside from my LN #7. But it is very close as far as use goes with the 7. For the tasks you stated you want this plane for the BU Jack excells at a few of those. SHooting especially with the low angle blade on end grain, smoothing knarly grained wood with a 25* included blade sharpened and cambered to a higher angle than you can get frogs for in a bench plane, and joints edges fine on shortish boards. I have 3 different blades for mine at the moment, all sharpened for different tasks. I plan to get one more 25* blade and prob the toothing blade for extremely difficult grained wood. Although I have yet to come accross too nasty of stuff that my highest angle blade wont plane satisfactoraly (spelling?). There are some drawbacks when it comes to using the BU plane heavily though, which Derek Cohen talks about over at his site. Wear on the backside of the iron can be difficult to hone out of the blade and eventually requires re-grinding. BUt I have yet to experience this myself.

    Sorry to throw another option in the mix. But if that isn't a direction you want to head I also agree that the 5 1/2 is the way to go without question.

  14. #14
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    I ordered the 5.5. with a plane sock, with an extra blade, yikes!

    BUT, it's only going to hurt once. Until I have to get two #140's, Thanks again.

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by Robert Miller View Post
    it's only going to hurt once.
    Unless you get it real sharp and cut yourself with it.

    Why do you want two #140's
    ...Dyslexic...
    Gibson Woodworking & Design
    Find my homepage in my profile, not allowed to put it here.

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